Pullbox Reviews: Unbound – Graphic action in a CyberSteampunk world

In an alternate world called The Ether, a werewolf hunter named Lukas tracks down a mob outfit whose leader is a Lycan named Cain. After Lukas teams with a monster hunting newbie named Marna, the duo is able to locate their target. But an unexpected turn of events reveals that nothing is quite what it seems.

Lukas is a bounty hunter, and all indicators point to the fact that he’s kind of a big deal. You don’t get to be that infamous by accident, and it doesn’t happen overnight. A young up and comer could do a lot worse than to tag along with Lukas on a hunt, to watch and to learn from the top of the food chain. So it is that when Ether’s top dog goes after Cain, a notorious underworld kingpin, he’s got an apprentice along for an extra pair of eyes on his back… I meant “at” his back.

Or did I?

Ralph Tedesco is no stranger to cranking out action packed pulp comics. He’s been doing it a while now, and whenever his name is attached to a new title, it’s usually pretty interesting to see what he comes up with. Unbound has a couple things that set it apart from the average Zenescope comic. First of all, it’s got an odd mixture of cyberpunk/steampunk themes and aesthetics. Second, it’s got absolutely nothing at all to do with Zenescope’s Grimmverse. Finally, Tedesco has worked in a couple plot hooks that set the reader up for a bit of a flip. When you think he’s just giving us another action heavy story about badass archetypes doing what badass archetypes do, he tosses in an extra element to keep things interesting.

The aforementioned mix of steam/cyberpunk is brought off impressively by the team of Oliver Borges and Leonardo Paciarotti. There’s the gritty high tech look of Ether City- all bright lights, smog, and cyber implants- mashed together with gothic architecture, and zeppelins. Even the flying cars are kind of a mixed bag, their design looking like the automobiles of the fifties and sixties. I swear I even saw a Volkswagon bug hovering through traffic. To really confuse things we’re given a broad view of Ether, more a series of floating islands than a single city, and a skyline that includes three moons. Wherever this place might be, it’s safe to assume that it’s nothing as mundane as a future Earth…

There are some design elements that didn’t quite work for me. The action scenes were broken up into small panels, which might’ve worked better in a more fluid and less traditional grid layout, but it made things feel a little crammed together. That’s a shame because I think that Borges has a pretty decent handle on dynamic action… I just would’ve liked to have seen a little more of it, maybe in broader or more open panels.

Not gonna lie, Unbound tricked me. Right about the time I was thinking to myself that it was maybe just a little too stylized, just a little heavy on the trash talking anti-hero shtick (which includes some profanity… kids, talk to your parents and make sure all of the naughty words are used correctly in a sentence), it takes a corner and pulls the rug on me. I’m equal parts impressed and chagrinned for my gullibility, but I’m not gonna hold the folks at Zenescope to task for that one. It’s my own fault.

Fooled me once… you know the rest.

Final Score: 8

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Updated: October 16, 2019 — 1:33 pm

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